BEIJING Evangelist Luis Palau preached to local Chinese believers in Beijing on Sunday at an evening service that followed an earlier morning service with President Bush. His 40 minutes of passion to win souls to Christ resonated among the overflow audience at Gangwashi Church.
Ten minutes before the service commenced, the main chapel was filled to the back. Some attendants were escorted to the adjacent rooms where they were able to sit on pews and watch the introduction of the 71-year old renowned evangelist from television sets. The crowd sang hymns passionately as they waited for the opening of the service.
The Rev. Ying Dufeng, pastor of Gangwashi Church, presided over the evening service. She introduced Palau as an old friend, who has been a frequent guest speaker at the church in each of his visits to Beijing.
Dr. Palau then went to the pulpit to greet the audience and in no time began exerting his evangelistic vigor as he rolled into the sermon. After a brief moment of humor and digest on his meeting with President Bush and former Minister of Information Zhao Qizheng during the past three days, he shared with the crowd how meeting God through Jesus Christ can be a "staggering" event in their lives.
Referring to Psalm 66, the evangelist explained how exciting a relationship with God could be as opposed to religious worship. After spending 59 years in faith, Palau said he lives realizing that each year gets better and better when you know Jesus Christ.
He gave a particular example of a story he heard from the prime organizer for his 1997 festival in Hong Kong. The organizer, affluent and successful in his youth, faced a troubled married life and unfaithfulness to his oath. Feeling guilty for his sins, he was about to commit suicide in 1987 until he saw the advertisement for the first Luis Palau Festival in Hong Kong. The theme of the festival was hope of man. It was a festival that turned his life around and gave him renewed purpose.
The change begins when you open your heart and say that I believe in Jesus, Palau exclaimed. God loves you just the way you are. However, He does not want you to stay the way you are.
God knows your heart. He says, 'Give me your heart.'
After Palau explained the steps of receiving forgiveness, experiencing change in life, and coming to believe in Christ, he called the new believers to stand. A number of attendants stood from their seats and one by one, each of them shouted, I believe. They were encouraged by the applause of surrounding believers.
Palau concluded the sermon by adding a story of a Chinese official he met over dinner on this trip.
Two years ago I met him, and during dinner he lifted wine and bread and said that it reminds him of Jesus blood and body that we write in our Bible. He said, This time, he asked me, Where am I going?
Jesus said I will give you eternal life; this is a gift of God," the evangelist exhorted to the new believers in the crowd.
Luis Palau will spend one more day in Beijing to give a synopsis on his experience of participating in charity at the conference, Hand in Hand in Charity; Shoulder to Shoulder to Harmony." He will return to the United States after and end his world tour for the year.